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“So, what’s this thing you wanted to show us, Pinkie?” Twilight trotted into the bakery, a look of wary skepticism on her face.  She’d long since learned that Pinkie was quick to make excuses to bring everyone together. That pony just always needed someone to talk to, even if her definition of “talking” involved mostly everyone else listening.


“Yeah, what’s so important to get us all here?” Rainbow Dash hovered a few feet off the ground before settling her hooves on the hardwood floor. “I was busy.”


“Nappin’ ain’t busy, Dash.” The Texan accent didn’t hide the playfulness of her jab. “But I am curious.  What’cha got for us this time, sugarcube?”


“Well, it all started when I went to see Celestia after that summons thingy that she sent a—“


Rarity’s eyes became saucers and sparkled with some inner magic. “You went to see Celestia?”


“Oh yeah, silly, I was there to deliver some baked goods, like cake, and muffins, and icing, and Mr. and Mrs. Cake gave me TWICE as much because they knew I’d eat half of it on the way and I did but I delivered the other half just fine except maybe a hoofprint or two in the icing where I tasted it, you know, just to see if it was still good after that LOOONG trip, and it was. But after I delivered it, I got hungry again and I was like ‘Where is there better candy than Canterlot’ and then I was like ‘NO where’ so I started to go to all the shops and someone—“


“Pinkie, can ya cut to the chase?” Applejack sat down on her haunches and adjusted her hat, already suspecting that this might be one of the longer visits.  “I’m not done with the plantin’ this season.”


“I was JUST getting to that before you interrupted me.” Pinkie’s annoyance vanished as fast as that sentence left her mouth, a swiftness that approached the speed of light. “So, Celestia must have heard I was there or something and was like,” Pinkie stood on her hind legs, flourishing gestures with her hooves as Celestia might have, but only if she had about ten or fifteen cups of coffee.  “ ‘Pinkie Pie, I have heard from my student’s letters that you are very qualified to arrange parties, and I’d like to make an official request for you to help organize my other planners for tonight.’ And I was like ‘Well, I got my delivering done today and so I have time and I love parties and I’ve always wanted to plan a party in Canterlot so sure thing, miss!’ Then I thought ‘Is a princess a miss or a misses?’—“


“Wait, darling!” Rarity’s eyes dazzled over with stars. “What was the princess wearing? You simply must tell me you suggested one of my outfits. If word got around that a mysterious pony was designing outfits for the princess herself . . . ” She breathed a longing sigh, some romantic fantasy taking her far away from reality.


“Hold on,” Dash, several feet in the air again, lounged on nothing by the flaps of her wings. Through her expression, she made sure everyone saw her boredom. “Where is this story going? I’m way behind on my nap.”


“It was a pajama party, Rarity, so I don’t think so—“


Twilight narrowed her gaze. “You made Princess Celestia attend a . . . pajama party.”


“Of course, silly, how else could we play truth or dare?”


As everyone fell quiet, trying to compute the logic, Fluttershy took the rare chance to speak “Umm, I . . . guess that explains why the sunrise started . . . five different times this morning. The roosters were so embarrassed.”


Pinkie broke out into a giggling fit, snorting every couple of laughs. “Yeah, that was me. But she also gave me something I wanted to show you. You know, Dash, how sometimes I get the feeling that people are watching us and it’s always when things are just a little bit exciting or crazy and you always tell me I’m so random and I’m like ‘But Dash! I KNOOOWW someone is watching me, this isn’t like that time with the oatmeal—‘ ”


“Pinkie!” Rainbow Dash shouted in impatience.


“Oh right. Well, I asked Celestia about it in one of the Truths and she said ‘Here, child, with this you will see who watches you’ and she gave me this book thing that opens but you can’t turn its pages you have to hit these buttons and it was on this scroll called /CO/.”


“Slash See Oh Slash?” The ponies replied in more or less unison, but with ample confusion.


“Yeah, this thing shows me /CO/.”




“Let me see if I follow, Pinkie.” Twilight said with her casual reserve, but a subtle edge of interest could not be mistaken. “You went to see Celestia.”


“Ya huh!” Pinkie sprung, all four feet into the air, each time she answered.


“And you asked her if people watch us.”


“Ya huh!”


“And she said yes.”




“And this book she gave you shows these people.”


“EXACTLY!” The springing turned into hyperactive bouncing. “Not them exactly but what they say about stuff they see us do and some pictures of us and some fake pictures that they drew being all artsy drawry.”


Rainbow Dash stared down her nose at the strange, sideways book-thing, mouth open in curious contemplation. She swooped down to the book and settled close to the table which it knelt in Pinkie’s home. “/CO/ Comics and Cartoons.” She read out loud. “I do like comics.”  With her pony hooves, she began to bump the glass over the scroll. “Umm, Pinkie?” Failing to move it like a scroll, she tried to find the seam to turn the page. “What kind of dumb comic is this that only has one page?”


“But it’s a real loooooong page, see!” In a blink, you would have missed it. Pinkie just stepped over to Rainbow Dash as if distance did not exist. “Use the buttons, silly.” She casually nudged Rainbow Dash to the side and her hooves began to work over a series of small buttons, singling out the down facing arrow. “This moves the scroll up or down.”


Applejack approached the duo, watching Pinkie’s dexterous hooves fly over the keyboard. She lifted her forelimb and tried to press the “U” button and managed to press everything from “V” to “0”. “How are ya pushin’ those tiny buttons with your big clod hoppers?”


Pinkie blinked at AJ, turning the idea over in her mind. A rare moment of silence from her.


“Darlings!” Rarity now found her place next to the book, squeezing between Rainbow Dash and Pinkie. “Aren’t we all forgetting what’s important in this conversation? People are TALKING about us.” She gracefully straightened one back leg and one forelimb, striking an elegant pose. “Their eyes are on us. Clearly, they chose to admire the most beautiful, interesting pony of Equestria!” There was the slimmest pause as she brought down her hooves. “And her friends, of course.” She added a nervous laugh when she saw Rainbow Dash’s unamused stare, and quickly turned to Pinkie. “You must tell me dear, what are they saying?”


“Oh lots of things, they talk all the time and they say all sorts of stuff, some of it I don’t understand but a lot I do.” Pinkie scrolled down the page until several images of Rarity appeared. “They like you a lot Rarity, and your pictures are pretty.”


Her eyes dazzled as she read a few comments. “Their favorite pony!”


“Yeah, but I think they are bad speller-writer-ponies, sometimes one tells the other that they spelled ‘Pinkie Pie’ with all the wrong letters.” If Pinkie could understand or perceive the sour look on Rarity’s face, it would have been impossible to know past those innocent eyes.


“I’m sure they do.” Rarity turned her attention back to the screen. “At least some love m---What is THAT?” Rarity’s contemptuous hoof pointed at the screen. “What invasive ruffian took a picture of me sopping wet.” She paused to read the comment. “I look BETTER in straight hair?! The fashion stooge does not understand how this hair compliments the lines of my face and makes me pop when amongst a crowd. Next picture, dear, and hurry. I cannot stand to look at that a moment longer.”


Pinkie pressed the button marked “pg dn”, moving past the offender’s comment.


“What is this?” Rarity’s eyes narrowed on the next that stood in her view.


“This is one of the arty-drawry things I mentioned.” She paused to think. “Draw fag, I think they call it.”


“It’s--it’s . . .” Rarity took a moment, drinking in the details of the lines and colors. “All wrong! The pose fails to capture the essence of my personality, and the curls are too many, it looks garish. My hooves are shinier in real life and my colors are accented better in a black background. Quickly, Pinkie, show me more.  Has anyone fixed these glaring issues?”


Pinkie rapidly tapped the arrow keys, moving the page yet further down, passing many more pictures.


“Hey,” Applejack smiled. “there’s one of m—“ The lines cast by her eyebrows drew in as she saw it disappear. “Pinkie, slow down, I do want to see what their sayin’ about more than just one pony.” She cast a glare at Rarity who let out a frustrated breath and turned her nose up and away from the country girl.


“Sure!” In a blink, Pinkie scrolled back up.

Applejack grinned again at the sight. “Why, heh, heh. My eyes sure look funny in that one. What am I sayin’, ‘so much pony?’”


The Rainbow Dash and Twilight began to crowd around for a closer look. Dash was the first to start giggling, and after a moment, the entire troop had a good laugh, including Applejack. “Heh, heh. Alright, anymore of me?”


Pinkie continued scrolling.


“There’s one! I . . .” She narrowed her eyes. “I look kind of funny again.”


Dash skipped giggling and broke into an outright laughs to see AJ’s face contoured into an expression that was perhaps exaggerated disgust. Twilight and Rarity joined in less this round, and AJ did not laugh at all. “Any without me makin’ a face?”


A dozen pictures passed. In one, AJ waved her arms about while mouthing “oo-ooo-ooo,” another was of her contorted in anger. The final straw was a shot of AJ repeatedly falling to the ground in a variety of faceplants.  Twilight blushed for her friend, and Rarity averted her eyes from the screen. Pinkie Pie merely scrolled when asked, while Dash was banging her hoof on the ground, rolling in laughter. “Ha, ha, ha!”


“I don’t get it.” Applejack began to back away from the screen, her head held low to the ground. “The pictures are silly lookin’ for sure, but do those ponies say anythang about me?”


Pinkie shook her head. “Only this song!” With a click of a button, the book started to sing to them:


Who’s a silly pony? (Who’s a silly pony?)

Who is? (You is)


Bumping into gates and knocking over fences

Who is? (You is)



As the song continue to play, AJ’s head began to sink lower and lower. At the second mention of her name, AJ laid down on the ground, covering her face with her hat and hooves.


                                    All day long you trot around

                                    Looking at the apples on the trees

                                    Dreaming all your pony dreams

                                    Licking lips so greedily.


Pinkie was bobbing her head side to side with bellows of the tuba. Rainbow Dash’s voice could be heard over the song as she thrashed around on the ground, kicking out with hooves and clutching herself with forelimbs. “Make it stop! Oh Celestia, make it stop! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! It hurts too much!”


“Yes, Pinkie, I think it’s time to stop it!” Twilight called out over the singing book.


Pinkie nodded her head, “Okay,” a click halted the music.


Applejack didn’t move, only her nose stuck out from under her cowpony hat.


“You alright, AJ?“ Twilight’s hooves clattered a few steps closer.


Applejack pulled the brim of her hat down and covered over her snout.


“Oh . . . kay,” She turned away from her friend and walked with lethargic steps over to the computer. “Are you sure it’s a good idea to keep reading these things, Pinkie?”


“WAIT! Hold on!” Dash swooped in and stood between Twilight and the computer. “Other ponies got to hear about themselves, and it’s MY turn!”


“That’s my point, I’m not sure it’s good for us to hear.”


“Psh! I’ll be fine! What bad thing could they possibly say about Equestria’s number one flier?” Dash turned around and faced the computer, a wide and eager grin on her face. “What do they say about Rainbow Dash!”


“Oh, they like you! They say you love candy.” Pinkie moved the screen down until a picture of Dash poking through clouds appeared.


“Aww, look at me!” Dash raised her head and shook out her mane, letting it fall over her shoulders anew. She raised the stem of her tail up high and arched it proudly. “I look *so cute*!”


With Pinkie blabbing away and Rainbow Dash preening, they continued to admire pictures. They commented on various naps or smiles or game-faces of Dash. Twilight rolled her eyes at the massive ego the pegasus would undoubtedly have after this. It already dwarfed a dragon, and may eclipse Equastia if it found physical form now.


“What’s candy vag?” Dash asked while viewing a new picture.


“I dunno, but it’s candy!” Pinkie bounced into the air at the thought. “Which I always thought was weird because I thought I liked sweets more than anyone here but they always say you like it, especially this vag stuff which might be some pegesus only candy or something.”


“I do like candy, so maybe they’re right.” Dash began to puzzle her thoughts.


“Maybe this?” Pinkie paused over a picture of a man in a brown suit that said spoiler.


“That’s a monkey, Pinkie.” A little amusement colored Twilight’s voice.


“No, silly! Behind him. The picture has a name called ‘Pinkie_licking_candy_vag.’ I wonder when I did that.” Pinkie moved her hoof across the book and a click opened the picture.


Rarity fainted.  Rainbow Dash grew pale as a doe and froze with an open jaw.  Twilight shut her eyes tight and nearly destroyed the book with a magical telekinetic backlash.


Pinkie raised her hoof to scratch her chin. “Hmm, I don’t think I’ve done that before.” Another thought struck her. “And I don’t think that’s candy.”


“Pinkie! Get rid of that picture!” Twilight screamed.


“Yeah, it’s kinda yucky-licky-grosserific anyways.” To a collected sigh of relief, a button press ended the nightmare.


Rainbow Dash slowly sank back to sitting on her haunches, face still just as pale, jaw still just as dropped.


“Oh, I get it!” Pinkie said. “Candy vagina! That’s what they mean.”


Applejack slowly slid her hat to the side, peaking out with one eye.


“Pinkie! Please! Not so loud.” Twilight’s voice grew gravelly in mounting frustration. “That’s not a polite word.”


“They . . . say I like candy . . . vagina?” Time only returned a fraction of the color in Dash’s features.


“In almost every shot!” In the span of a few moments, Pinkie highlighted every picture from Candy Vag Detected to Be A Dyke Pony: Eat Candy Vag.


“Dyke pony!” Rainbow Dash’s wings flared out in anger. In an instant, Dash found herself scooted off to the side by a purple magical force.


“Pinkie, that’s really enough.” Twilight took Rainbow Dash’s place, calling on all the command in her stance and voice that a student of the princess could muster. “Reading these has been nothing but a problem. It’s time to put it away.”


“Aww, but Twilight!” Pinkie frowned, her eyes wavering and watery as she looked up to the purple pony. “It’s my gift from Celestia and I don’t want to put it away, yet.”


“Pinkie, look around!” Twilight gestured with her nose and Pinkie began to follow. Rarity had fainted not but a few feet away and had remained on the ground. Applejack had resumed covering her face with her hat and holding it in place with her hooves. Rainbow Dash looked away when their eyes met, sitting on that once proud tail.


“Uhh, Twilight. Where is Fluttershy?”


“What?” Twilight gasped and started a canter around the room, mind resisting panic. What if she had seen that Candy Vag picture? “Fluttershy? Fluttershy!”


“Over here. . .” She whispered, a sound like the rustle of a breeze.


“Where?” Twilight stopped, swiveling ears while trying to get a beat on the sound.


“Over here.” She huffed louder and a pair of eyes stared out of the handhold on a cardboard box.


Twilight trotted to the box with an eyebrow raised. “Umm, Fluttershy?”


“Yes, Twilight?”


“Why are you in a box?”




Twilight blinked several times. “From?”


“Pinkie Pie said that Celestia said people are watching us.”


“You’re hiding from . . . those people, whom we have never seen or met?”


“Do they talk about me?”


Pinkie Pie, still by the computer, nodded her head furiously. “They named you ‘waifu!’”


The box squeaked and rustled, the eyes disappearing. A bump displaced the box before it settled a few inches over.


“Fluttershy, come out.” Twilight grumbled.




“Argh, fine!” Twilight walked back to Pinkie, head lowered. “Pinkie, it’s time to stop reading that horrible book.”


“But I just found this part where they are talking about Celestia and I really want to see, pleeease not yet!” Pinkie’s eyes began to water again as she looked to Twilight.


“. . . Celestia?” Deep inside her heart, Twilight felt morbid curiosity begin to bubble forward. Celestia, her royal highness, that raised the sun and controlled the moon for a thousand years. The princess that took her in when she was a foal and raised her like her own. The kind ruler of Equestria who forgave her sister and maintained harmony between the pegasus, unicorns, and earth ponies. A princess with beauty unmatched and wisdom of millennia. What could they possibly say about her beloved teacher? Celestia is untouchable by any force but the most ancient of powers.


The hesitancy turned Pinkie’s eyes hopeful.


“Oh, fine. Maybe we’ll get one good thing out of these creatures.”


“Yay!” Pinkie bounced and began to scroll the page.


The very first picture caused Twilight to flinch and a jolt of fear caused her heart to thud rapidly in her chest. “I’ve never seen Celestia angry. And I don’t want to imagine what would cause that, and especially not what she would do.” She had read legends of the time when Celestia had battled her sister Luna just before the thousand year imprisonment. Time had long since passed those legends into the realm of Ponytale, and Celestia had never spoken of that battle herself. Some geologist had posited theories that the entire world had undergone a drastic shift at that time, and lands became unrecognizable.


“I never saw her angry either, in fact she seemed all smiley, happy, and sometimes even laughed at my dares that I gave her, and she told me that she’d never seen any pony like me in all her eons of life, and I said that I had never met a pony like her either, except NightMare Moon, which kind of reminded me of her except all dark and spooky and not nearly as nice as she is now as Ms. Luna, and Celestia laughed again. She has a pretty laugh.” Pinkie smiled.


The next picture that scrolled past their gaze was artwork of Celestia drowning Luna with chains. Awkward feelings began to creep over her, rising slowly but intensely like a flood. “That’s an odd statement.” She said while looking at Luna’s hopeless acceptance. “Why would Celestia do that?”


“They call her a dinosaur. A tyrannosaurus.” Pinkie mimicked a dragon’s cry and followed it up with several giggles. “I don’t know why.”


“What?” Twilight scanned through a few posts. “Pinkie, you’re not reading thoroughly. They call her a ty—” She gasped, the word penetrating her thoughts like an arrow. “T-tyrant.”


“Oh, like a ruly-kingy-meanypants. That makes a lot more sense than a dinosaur. I thought they called her that because she was old like Granny Smith, only not all wrinkly like Granny is.”


The door busted open. Spike leaned a hand against the door frame to catch his breath. “There you are Twilight! Ma—. . . what happened in here?”


Taken back to reality, she turned and approached Spike. “It’s not important. So, what is it?”


“Mayor Mare has been looking for you.” He paused, looking over the room one more time. “Or more she told me to look for you and give this message she dictated.” Unraveling a scroll, he began to read it off in his casually official way:

On behalf of the town of Ponyville, I request that you, personally, Twilight Sparkle, gather your friends and address this town crisis. The fairyfolk of the EverFree forest have expanded one of the borders of the woods to the edge of our central river. We must make sure they do not expand the forest into the river itself and turn it into a swamp, as it’s vital for this town’s way of life. Your expertise in diplomacy makes you the most qualified pony in the town to negotiate with the fae and ensure the safety of the town,

With regards,

The Mayor.


The new town envoy glanced behind her, her mind already at work in formulating a plan.


Pinkie glanced away from what she was reading and met the gaze of her friend with a look of bewilderment. “Twilight, are you black?”


Twilight’s head lowered until her nose nearly touched the ground and she breathed out a frustrated groan.



We’ll return to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, right these messages!

Only on the HUB!






“Alright everyone, listen up!” Widening her stance, Twilight had a skill of commanding attention when she projected her voice.  Some lessons from watching the queen were invaluable to her. “Ponyville needs our help. The fae side of the forest is, at the least, an overnight march up the river.”


The ponies began, one by one, to turn their attention to Twilight. Applejack had shifted her hat back to see, even if she hadn’t gotten up. Rainbow and Pinkie had merely to turn. Rarity, who had recovered consciousness some time ago, if not footing, rolled to her hooves and shook herself.


“Pack pro—” A shuffling of Fluttershy’s cardboard box interrupted her. Clearing her throat, Twilight began again. “Pack prov—”


The box rustled and bumped, again. Twilight’s shoulders slumped as she watched the box continue to bump and slide, inch by slow inch, until the handhold lined up for a view and Fluttershy’s eyes peeked out see.


“Pack provisions, please. I’ll need all my friends for this.”


A procession of ponies filed for the door, Rainbow Dash swooping under the low door frame, followed by Applejack’s determined trot. Four yellow legs sprouted from the bottom of the box and Fluttershy toddled for the door.


“Am I going to find out what happened in the room back there?” Spike, while young, had developed sensitivity to Twilight’s moods through experience. As they walked back to the library, he couldn’t help seeing her slumped shoulders. Not to mention, he’d have asked anyways, from sheer curiosity after seeing half the ponies on the floor.


“I’m afraid not, Spike. I’ve got a lot on my mind right now, and I can’t even begin to think how I would explain things to an adult dragon, let alone a baby one.”


“We all do embarrassing things at Pinkie parties, it’s alright.” He lifted a scaled hand to pat her mane.


“What?” Twilight looked back in confusion. “Oh, never mind. I’m going to need a few things, Spike. My letter to Celestia is already two weeks late, and I can’t let this trip delay it. Pack the ink and paper carefully; I should have something to send when I get back.”


 “Sure thing,” Spike pulled out his the packing checklist and made notes.


Twilight stood at the town’s edge, packed and ready. Her clipboard and pin hovered in front of her with magical energy. The act of organizing for the trip had calmed her nerve. From making lists, compiling supplies, and seeing every box with a beautiful check, nothing better than organization to remove stress. Perhaps a little camping trip would be what everyone needed.


The sound of a steady hoof beat caught her ear and she peaked over her clipboard. Applejack approached with two full saddlebags. Checking over the list, she ticked off one box. AJ, early as expected.


“Good afternoon,” Twilight shifted the hovering board to the side and smiled to her friend.


“Howdy,” A few more paces and Applejack delivered a hug to her friend, utilizing her neck and one hoof.


“Umm, happy to see you?” Twilight raised an eyebrow in a mixture of surprise and curiosity.


“You too, sugarcube.”


“Having to go hiking now isn’t going to bother you, is it? I know the planting is not done.”


“It’s not a problem. Big Mac said he’s going to show AppleBloom a thing or two about plantin’ while I’m away.”


“Okay, but what’s with the face?”


“W-what face?” Applejack’s eyes darted to the side. “I ain’t makin’ no face.”


“That’s kind of the point. You look kind of . . . blank. It’s starting to appear a little creepy.”


“Oh, h-how do I make it less jeepers peepers?”


“Maybe a . . . smile?”


“Woo, woo!” Pinkie’s loud, never ceasing voice called out and Twilight made a quick check to her clipboard. Never could tell when she’d arrive, so her name was dead center on the list.


“Hey, guys!” She bounced until she was close and then merely bounced in place. “Ohmigosh, I’m so excited to go on this trip! A camping party, what could be more fun? We’ll have smores and clear water and sing marching songs and—” Pinkie caught sight of Applejack’s grinning, staring blank-face. “Ahhh!” Her bounce sent her backwards to her rump before she began to giggle uncontrollably. “Got me, AJ! Ha, ha, hee, hee! That was a good one!”


Catching a glimpse of Applejack, Twilight grimaced. “Actually, go back. Smiling makes it look far worse.”


With a nervous bite of her lip, she resumed a more serious, expressionless mask.


“Yoohoo!” Rarity’s controlled voice came from not a great distance away as she approached the two friends in a graceful trot. “I do apologize for this fashionable lateness, I had a great deal more to pack than I anticipated and lost all track of time.”


“It’s alright, Rarity.” Pinkie said, still giggling. “You still beat out Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy.”


“Actually,” A hushed voice came from behind the pink pony. “I’ve been here awhile.”


Twilight peeked over Pinkie and found a small, brown box that looked oddly familiar. Her pen and checklist clattered on the ground. “Oh . . . great.”


“Oh, Fluttershy.” Pinkie stood back on her hooves. “You are the best at Hide and Seek. Can I go next?”


“Umm, I’m not playing Hide and Seek, Pinkie . . . But I am hiding.”


Twilight approached the box after making a quick tick and a note for all the ponies present. “Fluttershy, you can’t stay in that box forever.”


“Oh, of course not, Twilight, I know that. After this trip, I’ll get a new box.”


Twilight nearly bruised herself with how hard she facehoof’d. “At least tell me you can walk.”


In response, the box raised on four meek, yellow legs.


“For this trip, I suppose it’ll do.” She collected her clipboard and checked over her list. Only Rainbow Dash left. At least, that was as expected.


After only a few minutes, Pinkie had already convinced someone to play tic-tac-toe, despite the fact that Pinkie’s skill was impossible to beat. Fluttershy had accepted and somehow manipulated a stick out the handle-hole to mark down X’s.


“Rainbow Dash is later than normal.” Rarity chimed in. As poised and elegant as she was, she could still be prone to getting antsy.


“Speak of the devil,” Applejack said. “Or next best thing to ‘em. Howdy, Rainbow Dash.”


Curving in a slow arc down, Rainbow Dash banked casually and brought herself up to the group before landing. “Everyone ready to go?”


Twilight only just marked off the last check and set the clipboard in her bag when she had a strange feeling about the pegasus. She leaned in slightly and studied Dash from hoof to head. “Is something different about you today?”


“W-why’d you say that?” Rainbow leaned back, raising one forelimb in agitation.


“Oh, Celestia!” Rarity’s pupils dilated from shock. “You’ve brushed your mane!”


“Yes,” Dash pounced on answering before thinking it through. “No! . . . Maybe?”


“Why’d ya brush your hair before a camp out?” Applejack stepped forward with her blank, staring face.


Rainbow Dash backed off both fore limbs and on to her haunches, staring at Applejack in startled confusion.


“You look great, Rainbow Dash!” Pinkie sprang up to her feet, bouncing in anticipation.


Twilight breathed a sigh of relief. Pinkie’s interference would at least save her the trouble of asking or explaining between the two tom-boys. “That’s enough for surprises today.”


“Aww . . .”


Twilight rolled her eyes. “Except yours, I at least expect Pinkie surprises.”




“Rarity,” A purple glow hovered a map in the white pony’s direction. “I’ll need you to pick a camping spot to pitch tents. You’re attention to detail is what we need. As for the rest,” She turned toward the river and shook out her mane, a smile gracing her lips. “We’re off. Hopefully, by this time tomorrow, we’ll have a deal struck with the Fae.”


 Twilight took the lead, setting a steady pace for the troop, and each one began to file behind her. Applejack followed next and Rainbow Dash hovered lazily back and forth, occasionally flying up high for a better view. Rarity followed behind Applejack, and a short little box on four legs took up the rear. Pinkie Pie sporadically moved up and back in short bursts as she paused between ideas.


“Do you think this makes us a party like those people that go on huge adventures to fight ancient evils? I mean we already did that once when we went to see Black Snooty but I didn’t think about how we were a party. It’s important because I never threw a party party before and I’m not sure what those are like--That means I get to make it up . . .” And so on and on she went. Twilight found that as long as she nodded on occasion, she didn’t have to distract herself from navigating without the map.  Not that it was hard to follow a river.


A few moments in, Applejack pulled out her rope, which she turned into lasso with a practiced speed. “What’d ya think I can hit, missy?” She asked Pinkie.


“Ooh,” Pinkie pranced up and took Applejack’s hat in her mouth. With a flick of her neck, she tossed it high in the air. “Get that!”


Just before the cap hit the ground, the lasso snatched it out of the air and landed it perfectly back on Applejack’s head. “Easy as pie.”


 “Easy as me?” Pinkie giggled. “Ooh!” Her eyes lit up and she picked another target.


Rainbow Dash hovered back down to earth after soaring restlessly, and gave her legs something to do. She had only just started walking when she noticed Rarity looking over her shoulder at her.


“Darling, would you mind walking in front of me?”


Dash paused her step just as a box bumped into her.


“Sorry.” The box waddled on around.


“What do you mean, walk in front of you?”


“It’s just a simple request.” Rarity nonchalantly tossed back her mane


“And why are you requesting it?” Dash’s eyes narrowed.


“It’s just awkward, is all.”


Dash narrowed her eyes further.


“Back there . . . watching . . . It just makes me a little uncomfortable, surely you can respect that?”


“Just what are you trying to imply?”


Twilight felt a tap on her flank and turned to see Applejack had poked her by tossing the lasso.


“What is it?”


Applejack gestured with her neck.


“Your . . . neck hurts?”


Applejack gestured harder with a snort of frustration.


“I really don’t understand what you’re trying to get at with that,” She gestured with a hoof. “Lack of expression.”


Applejack sighed, letting the mask slip only just. “Rarity and Dash are falling behind.”


“Oh!” She turned the troop around to find Rainbow Dash sitting and leveling a gaze at Rarity who laughed nervously. “What’s this about?”


“Oh, it’s nothing, it really is. Just a misunderstanding is all.”


She,” Rainbow Dash pointed an accusatory hoof. “is afraid to let me walk behind her.”


Twilight looked between the two. “I don’t understand.”


“I’ll let you walk behind me the whole way, Rainbow Dash!” Pinkie sprang up excited.


Dash’s brow rose with worry lines. “Not when you say it like that, Pinkie.”


Twilight looked back and forth, not comprehending.


Applejack tapped Twilight on the shoulder with her nose. “We shouldn’t make a big barn for a little hay. Celestia ain’t keeping up the sun forever.”


Twilight nodded and turned back to the path. “Just put it on hold, you two.” She said, trotting away. “Can’t delay for this.”


For a long moment, it appeared Dash’s stubbornness would win out, but at the last instant, she got up and trotted in front of Rarity, tail and nose high in contempt. Rarity breathed out in relief. From out of her bag, she pulled out a roll of paper and a pin. With a smile of excitement she began to write as she walked, using the magic of her horn.


“Uh oh,” Cresting a hill, Twilight halted her progress. Behind her, she heard the thud of a cardboard box, yelp of Rarity, and another apology from Fluttershy. But in front she found a problem. The founders of Ponyville had cut through a hill to guide the river, many years ago. Since then, the hill partially collapsed. While the river’s current kept the water clear, the path on either side was obstructed by a steep dirt mound, speckled dangerously with rocks. “Hmm, this was not on the map.”


Applejack brought the lasso to her side. “Musta been that doozy of a downpour. Made a mudslide over the old path.”


Rainbow Dash took to her wings. “We can still make it over.”


Before Twilight could point out how the rest might have a pair of reasons to not fare as well in that as Dash, Applejack spoke again. “I actually agree, this time. I think if I make it up there, I can use the rope to help the rest of y’all.”


“I could fly it!” Just as Rainbow Dash grabbed the rope to zoom away, Applejack snatched the rainbow tail with her mouth and stopped Dash cold. “This is somethin’ for me, sugarcube.” She managed to get out with closed teeth only to realize her eyes followed Dash’s tail right up to—Applejack spit out the tail.


“Ahh!” The sudden loss of tension sent Dash out of control and she crashed right into the dirt. She pulled her head out and screamed in horror. “My mane!”


“S-sorry about that!”


Dash zoomed off and out of sight, leaving every pony staring at her wake puzzled. After a minute, Twilight turned back to Applejack. “It is probably safest to let Dash take up the rope first.”


“No, sir-ee.” Applejack shook her head. “I got this one.” She took up her lasso and bundled it in her mouth while tying one end to her tail. “Just bring up the bag with ya.” She said while shrugging off her packs.


There was no point in arguing with Applejack once she dedicated herself to a task. “The sooner, the better.” Twilight muttered and the group watched as the cowpony approached the foot of the hill. The masked expression she had been wearing changed for a look of determination. Gaining speed with a gallop, she went full tilt up the loose dirt. Using rocks for sure ground, she bounded from foothold to foothold.


“Go Applejack! Whoooooo!” Pinkie cheered a popcorn tin mysteriously in her hooves. Twilight gave that fact a fleeting thought before she heard a pile of dirt begin to slide.


“Whoa!” A rock fell loose under AJ’s weight and the dirt offered no safe haven for her footing. In an instant, Twilight’s horn glowed purple, channeling magical energies. But Applejack avoided the tumble. A flick of her tail and her lasso whirled, another flick and it shot out, catching an intact tree. Pinching the rope tight in her mouth, she used the momentum of galloping downhill to swing herself and run up the side until her arc reached the top.


Pinkie gasped in delight. “That was apple-nificant, apple-some, apple-mazing, apple . . . great?”


Trotting up to the summit, she threw the rope down to the bottom and strutted in a pose. “HA! Who’s the silly pony, now?”


Pinkie laughed and began to sing. “You is, Applejack!”


“Hmm,” Twilight’s eyes narrowed. Gathering the saddlebag with magic, she attempted to lift it only to find it stayed roughly on the ground. “Hmm,” She said louder and began to unpack the bag. “Spare lasso, harmonica,” Each item floated into the air via her telekinesis. “Helmet, jump ropes, belay, mountain climbing horseshoes, harness, WEIGHTS?! APPLEJACK!”




“What’s this?”


The response came weakly and she casually kicked at the dirt. “Training . . . stuff.”


“AJ! You were supposed to pack food!”


“No I weren’t! I just normally pack food ‘cause I bake better than most. No pony ever said I had to!”


“But I was counting on it!” Twilight’s belly began to rumble with the thought of missing those sweet applefritters.


“And I’m countin’ on Pinkie to have packed food. She always does, too.”


“That’s right!” When Pinkie moved, something unexplainable happened. One moment she was next to Rarity, the next step and she stood next to Twilight. “I brought lots of s’mores supplies! Grahams, chocolates and MARSHMALLOWS!” Scooping both hooves into her pack, she threw up a volley of white puffs that bounced  across every ponies in a fluffy rainstorm. “Marshmallows everywhere!” She picked up her  tin. “Oh, and popcorn. But I had only enough for one show.”


“O-o-oh,” Twilight groaned with hunger pains. Concentrating to control her anger, she sent up AJ’s pack, one item at the time.


Using the rope and a little magical push from Twilight, every pony made their way up the top and down the other side. Dash returned just in time to scoop up Fluttershy’s box (which squeaked in surprise and kicked helplessly in the air).


As Dash set Fluttershy down, Twilight gave her a glare from head to hoof, chewing slowly on a marshmallow.


“W-what?” Dash’s cheeks grew rosy.


“Don’t mind Twilight, her grumpy face just matches her grumpy belly!” Pinkie came bouncing forward. “You cleaned up and,” She gasped in excitement. “I love that pink hair clip!”


“Rainbow Dash,” Rarity cantered forwards and gave her a measuring look. “Wearing a hairclip of her own choice? Stars and moon, has the world come to an end?”


“Y-you don’t have to make such a big deal of it.” The pegasus’ wings curled close to her body and she turned away from Rarity.


“I-I think it looks nice, Rainbow Dash.” Fluttershy’s voice came from down below.


Dash stood unconvinced. “I’m over here.”


The box turned and reoriented itself. “I think it looks nice, Rainbow Dash.”


“Ugh! Can’t a pony just clean up a little and not be made into a side show.” Her wings prepped for launch.


“Wait, darling, wait.” Rarity’s horn glowed blue and the hairclip adjusted its angle. “You look simply lovely, dear.”


Slowly, Rainbow Dash’s wings returned to rest. Without looking her in the eyes, Dash mutter. “Thanks, Rarity.”


“Welp, folks,” Applejack pulled her jump rope from her pack and began to adjust the leads in her mouth. “Sun’ll be settin’ soon. Better get to a campsite.”


Silently, Twilight swallowed her marshmallow and left at full trot.


The sun continued its low descent, casting long shadows over the trees and hills on their journey. As half of Celestia’s orb crested the horizon, Twilight’s thoughts turned to their provisions. The trot worked out her nerves, even if her stomach continued to rumble with hunger. “Rarity, how far until the campsite?”


Her eyes widened in fear. “Oh dear, the campsite!” Telekinetically, she snatched out the map and poured over it as she walked.


Twilight slowed her pace. Looking over her shoulder, she made room for Rarity to move beside her, the pale pony’s eyes on the map. “Rarity, have you picked one?”


“I’m afraid not, dear.”


“What were you doing earlier today with that pin and paper?”


“Writing a guide.” Rarity said absentmindedly.


“A guide?” Twilight raised a single brow. “A guide for what?”


Rarity folded the map to think, and then put it away and brought forth a rolled up piece of paper. Unfastening the band, she unrolled it. And kept unrolling it. And unrolling it. “Do you remember that promising, but flawed artwork that Pinkie showed us? All those errors on it, just the thought of more work like that coming out has preoccupied my mind for some time. Therefore, I am making this guide for all their future art if they wish to depict me.  With Pinkie’s help, maybe I can get this in their conversations.”


Twilight leaned over and scanned through a few rules.  She skipped over the bulletin points on how to depict her hair with excruciating accuracy, and settled on the fashion section. “No winter fashion after Winter Wrap Up?”


“By that time, winter fashion has grown stale. They should concentrate on spring colors.”


“No green under any circumstance?”


“Clashes with my tail and mane.”


“Saddles only if the setting is clearly a ball or gala?”


“I certainly do not want to appear so gauche as to over dress for a simple occasion.” She laughed politely.


“Rarity, how many rules are in this ‘guide?’”


“So far, six hundred and twenty four.”


Six hundred and twenty four?!” Twilight skidded to a stop.


“So far.” Rarity corrected.


“Tarm-a-shum!” Applejack stopped and spit out the jump rope from her mouth. “Now I lost count. I was tryin’ to get to a thousand before we camped. Now, it’ll be too late before the sun goes down.” She took up the ropes again and started hopping forward as the group walked.


“Ahh, yes, the campsite.” Rarity lifted the map out of her pack and rolled up the scroll.


“Let me guess.” Twilight’s voice lost its humor. “You’ve been working on this guide the whole trip and are just now picking one out.”


Rarity folded up the sheet up, eyes wide in surprise. “How did you know?”


“I think there is a pattern emerging around here.” She glanced over her shoulder and saw Applejack grunting with exertion at each hop with the heavy pack. Pinkie Pie had somehow squeezed unobtrusively into the rope’s rotation and her natural bouncing-skip seemed perfectly in tune to dodge the rope each time. “Whoo! Whoo!”


Twilight groaned. “We’ll just camp at the foot of the next hill. We’ll run out of daylight if we go any farther. Please just tell me someone packed a tent?”


Applejack skidded to a stop and Pinkie Pie hopped on her back with a crash and a squeak of some toy. Thinking about the question, Applejack shook her head to Twilight. Pinkie added a cheerful, “Nope!” Dash sadly mimicked AJ’s answer and Fluttershy’s box remained quiet.


Twilight’s head drooped and she looked down at the dirt in front of her. “At least we’ll have Rarity’s winter clothes to sleep in.”


The fashionista laughed nervously.


“Oh, no!” She shot straight and pressed uncomfortably close to Rarity. “Not that, too! What did you pack, Rarity, what did you pack!?”


“Well, ha, ha . . .” Rarity avoided Twilight’s eyes. “I know the plight of the artist all too well, being one myself. I simply could not leave all my admirers with a simple guide and nothing else.” Unbuttoning her bag, she telekinetically pulled a long sheet of fabric.  In rustle and quick blur, the fabric fastened around her, forming into a long flowing dress, complimented by ribbons and a tasteful hat. “So I brought with me inspiration!” Lifting a forelimb and rearhoof, she struck an elegant pose and held for several heartbeats.


Twilight stared with a mild look of insanity. Rarity cowered and began to fold the dress back into her bag.


Dash swooped down and slowly nudged Twilight. “I-I-I think it’s time to keep moving and settle for a camp.”


“I reckon I agree.” Applejack shrugged Pinkie Pie off her back (who fell into a Pinkie pile) and repacked her jump rope. “I think I can manage somethin’, Twilight.”


The purple pony stumbled into a walk from Dash’s nudging. “What do you mean, AJ?”


Applejack allowed herself a cocky smile. “Just leave it t’me.”


At the foot of the hill, Twilight focused on the map, replanning and organizing how to finish the trip, due to their limited supplies. Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, and Fluttershy focused on composing a campfire. That was, until Fluttershy’s box caught a few sparks and she went running and shrieking in circles. Rainbow Dash pinned her and Rarity levitated a pale of water over the lapping flames. Shivering and smoke-scarred, Fluttershy refused to get out and rested by the fire until the heat dried the wilted cardboard.


Twilight only sighed. The clatter of Applejack to her back, she approached the fire to take one of Pinkie Pie’s s’mores.


“Pinkie,” Dash sat by the fire with a poker and marshmallow of her own, but looked off at the object Pinkie crafted. “the chocolate is on the outside. That’s not even a s’more anym—”


Pinkie opened her mouth and snatched the treat with her tongue. A treat which consisted of five full graham crackers, twelve chocolate squares and 32 marshmallows, only half melted in the fire, all shaped to resemble some geometrical anomaly. “What?” She said between smacking lips.


Rainbow Dash just laughed, rolling to her side.


“She does that,” Twilight sat down close by. “Do you mind passing me a s’more?”


With a free hoof, Pinkie handed over another concoction: two layers of chocolate and marshmallow under one pair of grahams. Twilight might have said something about the odd shape, but her hungry eyes just dazzled at the sight of food and she began to gobble the unique take on the camp favorite.


“And done!” Applejack trotted proudly to the fire. The party of ponies all turned their heads to the handiwork. Using supplies of Rarity and her own, Applejack used ropes and mountain climbing gear to stake down a frame, and Rarity’s fabric to construct a patchwork canvas. The end results were two pitched tents.


“That looks . . . awful.” Rainbow Dash hovered a few feet in the air and crossed her forelimbs. “Like a clothing store threw up on a sporting goods section.”


Rarity bit her lips and squeaked trying to contain the outburst from seeing all her fabrics brushing against the dirt.


“I ain’t makin’em pretty, Dash. I’m makin’ it so we don’t sleep under the stars next to the Everfree forest.”


“They’ll do.” Twilight swallowed her s’more.


Applejack joined the rest, greedily eating marshmallow after marshmallow. A powerful hunger gripped her after carrying a sack of weights, lassoing, running up a hill, and jump roping consecutively to near one thousand. After she ate to her satisfaction, she pulled out her harmonica. What initially started as a comfortable backdrop of music turned into something unholy as marshmallow gunked up the insides and Applejack tried progressively more complicated “harmonica solos.”


“I think we should call it a night.” Twilight stared at the fire. The steady diet of s’more started do strange things to her blood sugar, despite feeling still a bit hungry. To her great relief, the soloing stopped.


“Alright, sugarcube.” Applejack let out a big yawn. “I could use a couple extra winks anyhow.”


Rainbow Dash, ears now uncovered, darted to one of the tents and swooped inside. “I call this one!”


The rest went up the hill at their own pace. “Alright,” Twilight announced. “Two in the small tent with Dash, four in the big tent sounds best. Rarity, if you could go with Rainbow Dash.”


“Oh, no!”


“Excuse me?” Twilight raised an eyebrow.


“I’m afraid that simply won’t do. All night, in a tent alone with Rainbow Dash? I certainly don’t want to give the darling such a temptation.”


What?” Twilight’s voice turned sour.


“Ah,” Rarity exhaled and spoke softly. “Aren’t you just the least bit afraid of her . . . you know?”


She stared silently before moving on. “AJ, sounds like you’ll be with Dash.”


“I-I’m not sure that’s a good idea.”


“Don’t tell me for the same reason.”


“Well . . . yes.” Applejack moved to Twilight’s side and whispered in her ear. “If I go in that tent, I’ll just end up thinkin’ bout my nethers all night.”


Twilight recoiled as if slapped in the face. “First off, that’s more than I ever want to know about your nethers, second—”


“I’ll sleep with Rainbow Dash!” Pinkie bounced high in the air to announce, back legs sending her near end over end.


Dash’s head poked out of the covers of her tent, looking down her nose at the group in disbelief of what she just heard.


“I don’t mind!” She sprang again.


“No way.” Dash shook her head. “Pinkie talks and rolls around in her sleep.” She paused. “And it’d just be awkward after what she said.” Dash disappeared back into the tent


Pinkie continued to bounce with cheer, Dash’s response not bothering her in the slightest.


“What about Fluttershy?” Rarity looked over her shoulder at the flame kissed, wilted box.


Twilight shook her head. “I need the light to write a letter to Celestia, and Fluttershy will need the light to sleep.”


The box rustled with an affirmative.


“So . . . it looks like we’re all sharing one tent.” Twilight looked back at everyone: at the box, at bouncing Pinkie Pie, and at Rarity and Applejack. Her head drooped nearly to the floor.


Pinkie crashed hard. Almost as soon as she curled up, she started a soft, sighing sleep. The box filed to her side and the other three ponies bumped into each other for lack of room.


“Ow, hold still girls,” Twilight attempted to balance the lamp telekinetically.


“Sorry, Twilight,” Applejack did her best to hold still, but a gust of wind blew through the tent and a loose sleeve smacked her in the face. “Goshdarnit!” She shifted one leg and tripped Rarity as she tried to go around. Rarity cried out in distress and she stumbled toward Fluttershy. A sudden purple burst of energy stopped the white pony from crushing the box and turning the sensitive pony into a crying mess.


“Just . . . lay down. Please.”


To her surprise, Applejack and Rarity stretched out lengthwise in the tiny space left to them. Rarity made a horrible face to smell the sweat and dirt Applejack worked up through the day, but appeared to tolerate it for the time being.


“This might work out after all.” Twilight said aloud with a smile and hung the lantern up high.


Pulling her pen, ink, and blank letter from her saddlebag outside the tent, Twilight stared at the empty, daunting piece of paper.


                    Dear Tyr-


She blinked at what she wrote the full word coming like a whisper at the back of her mind. She scratched it out and began again.


                    Dear Princess Celestia,

                    When among friends, there comes times to make key decisions. I’ve found a democratic style of lea—


The pin stopped. The image of Celestia drowning Luna came floating back to her mind. She imagined herself in that place, chains holding down as she caught the last sight of the magnificent and terrible princess. She scratched out the letter and began again.


                    Friends rely on certain republican prin—


Twilight scratched out the paper in a panic.




“GAH!” She groaned out loud and threw the pin, ink, and letter back into her bag before throwing herself back and on to the make-shift bed of fancy fabric.


“Ow!” She banged into Applejack who kicked out with surprise. The kick shoved Rarity back into Pinkie, who remained asleep but rolled over the other direction, her hooves catching a rope. The rope jiggled and knocked loose the lamp. As the lamp began to fall, Applejack leaped out of bed and dove to catch the lantern and save the entire tent from a pile of broken glass. In the dive, she caught a loose sleeve and dragged the canvas with her. The ropes and stakes collapsed under her weight and the tent’s canvas, sticks and all folded in on itself.


Rarity gibbered in fright, Applejack rustled and thrashed to disentangle herself.  Pinkie Pie started to mention oatmeal in a sleepy daze while Fluttershy contented to stay in her box. Twilight poked her head out of the rumples and glanced around. With a great groan she flopped to the ground, belly rumbling again, not satisfied on s’mores alone. “Everyone . . . just go to sleep. Tomorrow, we need to go into the Everfree Forest.”






The sun beat down on Twilight’s shut eyes, the brightness beckoning her up even through the closed lids. She groaned long and miserably, rolling over on the uncomfortable pile of dresses and ribbons. But the growl of her belly gave her no respite and she eventually stood up, shrugged off the blanket and shook out her mane and tail.


“I declare.” Applejack yawned long and loud. “Celestia must be getting’ up extra early today.”


One by one, the ponies began to rouse. Applejack and Rarity rolled up the tint and revealed a still snoozing Pinkie Pie, limbs akimbo.  Fluttershy stretched out her legs and peeked out of the box at the dawning sun.


“So, Twilight,” Applejack moved her saddlebags closer to where Twilight studied the map. “What’s the deal with cuttin’ through the forest?”


“I’m afraid we don’t have a choice, AJ. We’ve only made half as much progress as I originally planned, and every day we fall behind, the more likely it is the fae will turn the river into a swamp. Besides . . .” Magically flicking a pebble to thud against the box, Twilight motioned for Fluttershy to join them. “Fluttershy, you are the foremost expert on flora. If we travel into the forest, do you think we could find food?”


“Food?” Applejack hadn’t woken up enough to remember her plan to blank all her expressions. She straightened in surprise “From the forest? Isn’t that a might dangerous?”


“AJ, you and Rainbow Dash might be able to go another full days hike on what we have. Maybe Pinkie Pie, too. But Rarity and I are not accustom to this vigorous of a physical activity. Not only that, but I need to be at my best when negotiating with the Fae in order to secure the most fair deal.  Now, Fluttershy . . .”


The box settled down, the legs disappeared under the flaps. A long silence passed before the large eyes appeared again, glancing nervously between Applejack and Twilight.




 “I . . . think so.” She avoided their gaze. “Some wild flora may grow in the forest that I can recognize. I’ve seen it grow before, last time we were there.”


“Then it’s settled.” Twilight folded the map with finality, rising to her feet. “We’ll cut through the forest and scavenge a decent meal on the way.”


Applejack took in a deep breath and let it out in a sigh. “Alright, Twilight, if you think so.”


Unfolding a clipboard list, the town envoy surveyed each pony, one check for awake and one more for packed.  Rarity went to work tapping on Pinkie’s flank, but to no response. Seeing no alternative, she attempted to pull the ribbons out from the heavy sleeper’s back.


“SNAKES!” Pinkie flew up into the air and ran blind for several moments before skidding to a stop. “No, wait! Just grass.”


But the outcry alone was enough to send Twilight’s fur frizzing in fright. With a shaking magical grip on her pin, she checked once for Pinkie. Had to be snakes. . . Straightening herself out, she approached the second tent and found a multi colored tail hanging out the edge.


“Rainbow dash? Rainbow Dash! Time to get up and pack.”


The tail disappeared under the canvas.


“No time to nap today. We’re already behind.”


The tent stood eerily quiet.


“Dash, don’t make me force you up.”


 After no response came, Twilight’s horn glowed and the stakes popped from the earth, causing the tent to collapse and a surprised yelp to come from inside.


“Out you go, time to pack up.”


A figure scrambled out from the bottom of the tent and into the sunlight for every pony to see.


“CLOWNS!” Pinkie screamed and ran blindly forward. “Clowns in the tent! No, wait! Just Rainbow Dash.”


Dash’s wings clung as tight as possible to her sides and she shrinked away. Her blue face was replaced with one powered white as snow. Bright cheeks were painted unevenly in red blush. Her hooves evidently struggled to hold the lipstick as one side of her mouth had an unnatural red grin.


“What in tarnation?!”


“Oh my goodness, darling!”


Even the box rocked back with a timid squeek.


Pinkie giggled and started to sing. “Na na na na na na na na na Batpony!


Dash only shrank further. “I-I-I had no mirror, okay? I’ve never tried it on before.” Her voice began to crack and tears welled up behind her magenta eyes as she rambled. “I forgot to pack a mirror and I don’t know how to wash it off and . . .”


Applejack walked slowly forward and threw a forelimb around her shoulder, hugging Rainbow Dash between one limb and  her neck. “C’mon, sugarcube. Let’s take you down to the river and get you all washed up.” Together, they walked down to the water’s edge where Dash stared at her reflection. Before dunking her entire head and shaking it about, water splashing violently. Applejack soaked her tail in the water and used it to wipe away what she could.


“Well . . . now . . . that was unexpected.” Twilight stared after them.


“Poor darling just needs an experienced hoof.”


“No use just watching now.” Twilight made short work of the rest of the packs thanks to her organizational skills and a healthy talent in magic. After only a few minutes, everything was lined up, and all wore their packs except Applejack and Rainbow Dash.  Twilight checked off those marks anyways and sat patiently for Dash to clean up. Some things were worth a delay.


“You two ready?” Twilight rose to her hooves seeing the pair approach. Dash’s face and Applejack’s tail still dripped with water, but they were clean and Dash had a small smile on her face once more.


“Yeah, oh wait!” Rainbow Dash flapped to her bag and pulled out a decorative saddle.


Both Twilight and Rarity watched in stunned silence as Dash slipped it on, though her inexperience with the strap was giving her trouble. Pinkie Pie was the first to act, giving the strap a tug and a snap into place.


“Oh, Rainbow Dash, you look so pretty now that you are pretending to be fancy instead of pretending to be a clown. Though I had some great hats to go with clowns!” Pulling a party hat out of her saddlebag, a minor explosion of confetti and streamers erupted from her pack.


The reminder of the makeup mishap was softened by the fact it was Pinkie Pie. Rainbow Dash just laughed and patted her on the shoulder. “Maybe for Halloween.”


All packed, Twilight led them to a low water crossing in the river, that only rose above their hooves. The hope was that they’d dry before long as they crossed into the Everfree Forest.


“Stay close now.” Applejack watched the canopy of the trees with caution. “We want none of ya gettin’ lost, deep in these woods.”


Applejack took it upon herself to keep eyes on the whole troop, making sure that Fluttershy didn’t fall behind or Pinkie Pie didn’t wander off. Twilight occupied herself with navigating through the jungle as it grew more and more dense. Rarity did her best to avoid various pitfalls to her coat or main.


“Hey, Fluttershy.” Dash hovered over the box, looking down at the other pegasus. “Can you even see what sort of plants are around you?”


“Yes, well . . . kind of.”


Dash rolled her eyes. “Then can you like . . . open a hole a bit wider or something? If a meal ticket is around here,” She swooped down in front of the box so Fluttershy could see Rainbow Dash’s serious gaze. “I’d rather have you able to see it for us.”


Fluttershy shrank back and let out a nervous mew.


“Wait justa minute you two.” Applejack gave Dash a nudge out from Fluttershy’s view. “Don’t hassle the hay-picker, or we ain’t gonna get hay picked. Best we keep walking so as to not get separated.” Already, Twilight half disappeared in brush.


Grumpy as an empty stomach made her, Dash shrugged and relented. “Oh fine.”


“Thank ya, kindly.” Applejack gave her a nod then continued on. “Oh, and Dash? Stay hoverin’ above Fluttershy if you can. Might make her a little more comfortable in the forest to have you watchin’ like that.”


Dash crossed her forelimbs over her chest, but took position over Fluttershy’s box. The forest grew thicker the deeper they plunged, though with only a tense quiet, boredom started to take over. With a casual movement, and a mischievous smile, Dash let her rear hoof sag low and bump Fluttershy’s box.


With a gasp, Fluttershy took off at a gallop.




 “Goshdarnit, Dash!” Applejack had no time to chastise further and went off for the out of control box. After a short hop over a fallen log, in an attempt to cut off Fluttershy, Applejack’s leg caught on a vine. She tripped into a tumble, landing hard on the ground. Weaving around trees, Dash stopped, and together with Rarity, helped AJ to her feet.


Panting, AJ righted herself. “Which way did she go?”


“Darling, slow down. She ran into Twilight not far ahead.”


“Oh,” Applejack slowly cantered forward, catching her breath.


When she heard a scream of terror, Twilight, by the sound of it, it vaguely resembled “SNAKE! HUGE SNAKE!”


The trio took a single look at each other and then all dashed forward. In a small clearing, they caught sight of a frantic purple pony at full gallop. In her wake, a thirty foot long serpent with half a dozen hissing heads.


In silent horror, Applejack watched Twilight take a route that led right across Fluttershy. Fluttershy dropped, her legs sinking under the (un)protective layer of cardboard and stood dead still. Unable to turn away, yell, or act, AJ watched the snake barrel straight at the helpless yellow pegasus. And then, to her surprise, on around.


“Criminitly! That actually worked!” Between the wilting and the black kisses of flame, the box had become perfect camouflage in the forest. Applejack rushed in. After running an apple farm and Winter Wrap Up division for several years, she fired off orders like second nature. “Dash! Fly on up high and keep a sight on Twilight. She’s panicked and could run on anywhere. Last thing we need is to lose her in this mess.”


“Got it!” Rainbow Dash snapped to attention, the ex Jr Speedster, and in a streak of color, took to the sky.


“Rarity, you’re gonna need to take care of Twilight’s hysterics, I’m gonna distract that snake.”


Rarity gave a determined nod. Fashionista she was, artist she was, but she never batted an eyelash at any amount of danger. She pulled away and made a straight line for Dash’s location.


Applejack skidded to a stop and pulled the cardboard off of Fluttershy. “Sorry about that,”


She squeeked in surprise and curled up.


“Quick, snap out’a it. You know animals, and I need to know. What was that thing?”


“I d-don’t know! I was just in my box I couldn’t see anything!”


Antsy with adrenaline, Applejack hopped back and forth like a boxer while thinking. “Uhh, huge, really huge. Snake, had lots of heads. Chasin’ Twilight right now.”


“It must have been a Hydra!” Fluttershy stretched out her legs and unfurled her wings, blood flowing through them in fear and excitement.


“Whatcha know about them?”


“Uhh,  they don’t hunt ponies, they just defend territory. If we can all go, he’ll leave us alone.”


“Right,” Applejack turned to go.


“Wait! This is very, very important. There is one thing that’ll drive a Hydra into a rage. Don’t, I repeat, don’t touch it’s nest.”


“Ooooooooooomelets ready!” Pinkie Pie’s voice echoed through the woods, the location hard to pinpoint.


The hydra’s heads jerked in unison to the sound, as if each one had be struck at the exact same moment. One by one, the heads all turned back to Twilight and the serpent doubled its speed, hissing and barreling with reckless abandon.


“Oh darn it, oh darn it!” Applejack said as fear gripped her chest. “Fluttershy! Get to Pinkie Pie NOW!”


The pegasus nodded, putting on a brave face and took to the air. Applejack ran for Twilight with a speed she’s only achieved once or twice before in her life.


Twilight zigged and zagged and screamed, allowing the path through the trees to dictate her direction rather than any strategy. Following the sight of Dash, Applejack caught up quickly by keeping her path straight. Shedding her bag for speed, she kept only her rope with her, which she turned into a lasso on the fly while hopping over logs and around vines.


Rarity ran off to the side, her white horn glowing in a pale blue light as she channeled magic spell after magic spell. But whereas Twilight had a natural skill for this sort of thing, Rarity’s was suited to small, detailed tasks. “I can’t get Twilight’s attention and I can’t slow down the creature!” She said to Applejack who pulled up alongside.


“I think I can corral Twilight to ya.” Veering off to the side, she began to twirl her rope with her tail, spinning it beautifully into an open lasso.  Waiting for a clear shot, she let it fly, aiming for the panicked pony’s neck.


It was at that moment she realized how tired she really was from the day before, and  how the lack of proper food effected her.


The strength sapped out of her and the lasso fell way short. As it went off target, a reptilian head slipped inside the open hole by luck. “Oh shoot . . .” The lasso jerked taut and flipped Applejack right off her feet. “Whoa!” The hydra didn’t slow a second with the added weight, dragging Applejack like a rag doll.


It’d only take a single misplace tree to severely injure the cowpony. Rarity banked hard and channeled another spell. In a moment of inspiration she focused on the knot in Applejack’s tail and untied the crude thing. Diverting the tail end of the rope, she chose a tree in front of her and made a bow of the lasso, around the trunk of a tall oak.  As the Hydra surged forward, the rope yanked taut. The huge body snapped to the side, it’s massive weight turning it over in a wave that travelled down its tail for a crash.


Rarity reared up on her hind legs, kicking out in glee. “Yes!”


One of the Hydra’s heads shook itself while the rest glared at Rarity. In a roaring hiss, it bit the rope clean in two and launched forward in a winding slither.


“No!” Rarity planted her feet and turned the other direction. Trying to pick the most hazardous path for the beast, Rarity galloped through thick brush and around the thicker branches. The sticks and trees clawed at her perfect hair, snagged on her pack, but hopefully would be twice as difficult for the Hydra to follow.  Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed a limb dig under the lid of her pack and snap the button. The wind from the gallop caught the flap, and carried out a single scroll of paper, with a bow that Rarity recognized.


“My guide!” With the grace of a waltz, she stayed light on her hooves and turned around, reaching down to snatch up the scroll with her teeth. As the paper crinkled in her grip, Rarity stared down six heads, mouths open and fangs dripping with poison. It sparked an unusually moment of clarity of mind to know avoiding the hydra was impossible now. A thought struck her then. The art that would come from /Co/ after she was torn to pieces would be especially horrific.


But Rarity was not a Jr. Speedster. Rainbow Dash had been keeping a close eye on how it unfolded and knew that turning around was a mistake for Rarity. Dash immediately rolled inverted and pulled back hard on her wings for a Split-S maneuver. Gaining airspeed in the half loop, she leveled out under the treetops, eyes finding a hole which to stream through and catch Rarity. She scooped up the unicorn the only way the path allowed, wrapping her hooves around Rarity’s back legs and clutching as tight as she could so as to not lose her in the minor pony collision.


The snake’s mouths snapped at Dash’s wake, but found no flesh to sink teeth into. Dash whooped to answer the hydra’s chorus of rage. Rarity, shaken by the force of the catch, recovered her senses while hanging upside down. Feeling something between her legs, she glanced down and saw a blue face with rainbow hair between her thighs.


Rainbow Dash’s ears rang with the scream of bloody murder. “Rarity, calm down, stop, OWW! Stop kicking!” But not a word of it got through as Rarity thrashed, kicked, struggled, and screamed. Dash went vertical to bleed off airspeed,  but Rarity’s hoof hit Dash’s wing and sent them both into an uncontrolled spin.  Too low to recover, Dash and Rarity tumbled through the treetops.


Applejack laid still. Every muscle in her body ached from bruises and over work. Her frame shook with a rapid pant, lungs trying to provide what lack of nutrition could not. With a painful effort, she raised her head and looked to the sky. Rainbow Dash had gone down.  Twilight ran spooked through the wild woods. Rarity had disappeared. A giant monster still lurked, thirsty for blood. Each pony separate and alone in the Everfree forest. The worst case scenario realized. Applejack pinched her eyes closed and let out a quiet sob, true despair leaking into her heart. She kicked out her legs, willed them to move despite all. Despair was an alien feeling and it raised up Applejack’s defenses.  She gritted her teeth against the pain and opened her eyes to see . . . Pinkie?


“There you are, silly goose.”


“What are you doin’ . . .” She trailed off. Listening for it, she heard Fluttershy’s timid voice doing its best to get attention.


“Pinkie, stop. Pinkie? Pinkie? This is in a hydra’s territory. Please, Pinkie, I’ve got something important to tell you.”


“No one came when I called.” Pinkie smiled.


Applejack attempted to get her feet under her. “It’s kinda dangerous here right now.”


Fluttershy leaped up and down, waving her hooves. “That’s what I’ve been trying to say.”


“Don’t worry, Fluttershy.” The pink one bent low and used her neck to help get Applejack to her feet. “Auntie Pinkie won’t just leave her friends in the forest.”


Fluttershy exhaled in frustration.


On her feet, AJ felt her knees sway, then stabilize. It was easier to keep in motion then it was to go from laying to standing. She started forward in a walk, to a trot, and then to a canter. “We need to get to Twilight, and find Rainbow Dash and Rarity. There is also a Hydra trying to chew our hides out there somewhere.”


Pinkie sprang up and down. “I know how to get Rainbow Dash to find us!” Pinkie nuzzled open her sack and pulled out a set of Roman candles with her mouth. “fis ill pe eefee pu fee.”


“A firework! That’ll be easy to see for Rainbow Dash!”


“fat’s wat aye faid!”


“But Twilight’s the one I’m worried about, she’s a spooked mare, runnin’ through the woods because of that gosh darn phobia of hers.”


“Umm, Applejack?” Fluttershy pulled up next to her, flying a few feet off the ground. “I think I can find Twilight.”


“How’s that?”


“Twilight’s making so much noise that I saw her startling all the birds she passes. If I fly above the trees, I’ll probably be able to point out where she is.”


A new found hope surged through Applejack’s being and gave her a burst of energy. “Alright, you do that, we’ll follow you from the ground.”


Fluttershy flapped her wings and soared above the canopy. After a short pause where she looked to all sides, she darted off. Applejack kept pace with knees she’d thought buckle at any moment. But with Pinkie at her flank, she went with a confidence that she’d have help if she fell.


But after a time all too short, Fluttershy drifted back below, a panicked fear on her face. “I don’t see any more birds. I don’t know where she went. I’m n-not sure what to do! I was just going to where I last saw them but I’m lost.”


Applejack slowed to a stop. “We can’t stop looking now.”


“Yes, you can.” A purple unicorn trotted forward. “I’m right here.”


“Twilight!” Applejack lurched forward, nearly falling, but caught herself with an embrace. “Thought I lost ya seven times over. Done panicking?”


A blush rose furiously on her cheeks. “I realized it wasn’t chasing me anymore and yes.” She straightened. “I’m quite done panicking.”


Applejack looked over her shoulder. “If we can find Rarity and Dash and quick, we can get outta here before you-know-who shows up.”


Pinkie Pie shifted her saddlebag. Sitting on her hindquarters, she dug through the bag with her forelimbs.


Rarity’s voice came from the underbrush. “There they are!” A galloping pale unicorn approached, ducking under a branch. Her well groomed hair now filled with leaves and branches, some even dragging on the ground behind her tail, all shattered off from the trees during the crash and stuck in the curls.


“Hi, Rarity!” Pinkie waved with a smile while digging through the bag.


A pegasus swooped down next, trailed by a rainbow tail and wearing a rumpled saddle.


“Hi, Dash!” Pinkie waved to her too, then resumed the bag search


“Pinkie,” AJ started. “We don’t need the fireworks any—never mind.” She breathed an intense sigh of relief. “How’d you find us? I saw y’all crash.”


“Yeah, about that crash,” Rainbow Dash crossed her arms and glanced down at Rarity. Rarity cracked a guilty smile. “After we recovered, I saw Fluttershy above the trees and just started following.”


“We got no time to lose.” Twilight stepped forward. “We’ve got to leave bef—”


A terrible thud shook the very ground. Creaking timber seconds before the of fall of a massive  tree, felled by the stroke of a powerful snake tail. The trunk fell behind the ponies and displaced earth to the point it sent several to their knees.


“Dagnabit!” Applejack cursed. “He followed ya.”


The Hydra circled around, cutting off the main route of escape. It reared up twelve feet high, the heads making a sound close to a gleeful laughing. Twilight froze stiff in fear while several of the other ponies scrambled to their feet.


The serpent closed in and Applejack cast her eyes for an exit.


“Help!” Rainbow Dash’s voice squeaked, halting every pony.  One of the limbs of the fallen tree had caught her dress-saddle and pinned her to the ground. Dash fiddled with the strap helplessly, then surged forward climbing with all her legs and flapping with all her might. But her hooves only kicked up loose dirt. A real, terrified fear in her eyes looked back at her friends.


The snake hissed in anticipation of at least one easy victim.


Applejack’s heart never had beat so fast or strongly with the knowledge of sudden, imminent death. “Twilight! Your ink! Dash, your powder!”


Her name shocked her out of some trance state, and Twilight magically hefted her ink over to AJ, who skid to a stop next to Pinkie Pie. Dash grasped for her bag, but to no  avail. Rarity’s horn glowed blue and snatched the makeup powder from Dash’s saddle bag and tossed it, trailing the toss of the ink. Applejack caught both in Pinkie’s sack, and smashed the two bottles together underneath the canvas. Biting a loose string, she gave it a swift jerk and heard the delayed fuse of a firecracker come to life. With the last of her strength, she hefted the bag and hit the dirt, covering her ears.


The saddlebag sailed through the air, fizzing with life, and landed on the nest of heads at the front of the Hydra. For a second, nothing happened, and the snake reared back to strike.


But then the fireworks went off. Every party-streamer, every popgun, every confetti launcher, whoopy cushion, sound maker, spring-snake, and prank detonated at once, in a cacophony of party noise. And that excluded the concussive blasts of a firework grand finale.


The powder and ink mixed together in a thick black cloud that stained everything it touched, coating every pair of eyes the hydra had with ink. Streamers erupted everywhere, many on fire, or soon to be as burning embers and rockets of every color launched in all directions. And a rain of black inked marshmallows rained down in all directions.


As it all settled, the beast cried out in blind agony, thrashing through an ever expanding cloud of powder, ink and smoke.


 “Can you get that tree off of her?” Applejack cried out as soon as the sounds of all but the blast died down.


First, Twilight had to get her jaw off the floor, a task that was by no means easy, magic talent or no.  But she nodded, and concentrated on the limb that pinned Rainbow Dash. The horn and the branch glowed in a matching purple, and it began to rise off of her helpless friend.


As soon as the very inch allowed, Rainbow Dash slipped out from under. “Okay, Twilight, I’m out.”


The horn reached a second overglow and the entire tree was swallowed in magic light.


“Umm, Twilight?” Rarity began.


A third, massive overglow sprung from her horn and Twilight lifted the tree off the ground. Rotating it around, she launched the thick end into the smoke like a javelin. Whether or not it struck the creature, no one knew. But what they did know was that the wailing stopped.  “Alright girls . . .” Twilight said between heavy breathes. “Let’s get out of here.”


One by one, they filed out, following Twilight’s navigation. The encounter made them wary of the dark woods, and the trees loomed around them, closing in thicker and expanding out. Native and exotic sounds called through the underbrush, understood only by the creatures that made them. Nary a word passed among them in that dark place, except for the occasional giggle of Pinkie Pie. Only once they saw the river’s edge did they breath a collected sigh of relief.


“CANON BALL!” Pinkie pranced forward and leaped  high into the air, striking the water in a belly buster rather than actual canon ball. Rainbow Dash followed her and shrugged off her saddle. Cackling with glee and relief. She skimmed across the top of the water, dipping her legs in for a massive wake. Rarity, feeling filthy from the forest, set her bag aside and pranced neck deep into the clear waters. Exausted, Applejack was helped to the water’s edge by Fluttershy, and only dipped in a few feet to lay in the refreshing stream. Twilight made a check for every pony present, then carelessly tossed her bag and board aside, laughing playfully as she charged in.


“Hey, Applejack!” Dash finally broke the silence, swimming in the deeper parts with her head above water. “That thing you did with the pack. That . . . was . . . AWESOME!” She kicked out and threw her wings and limbs into the air, splashing the water high.


“That was so cool,” Pinkie joined in “I was all like gasp! And then I was ooooh, aaaaah, pretty, and then I heard the whoopee cushion and I laughed.”


“It weren’t much.” Applejack grinned to herself. “I thought that liftin’ the whole tree there was one mighty trick.” He gestured with her nose to Twilight.


“What can I say?” Twilight shrugged. “I don’t like snakes.”


“Oh, man!” Dash surfaced again. “I wish any of you could have seen me make that diving save on Rarity, just whoosh! And right in the nick of time, it didn’t even see that coming.”


“What really surprised me,” Rarity magically separated branches from her tail. “Was that box of Fluttershy’s actually hid her.”


Fluttershy laughed, and that laugh infected others, and pretty soon they were all splashing and laughing over that resilient cardboard box.


As the laughing died away, Twilight smiled. “Hey, girls. Come here, there has been something I’ve been thinking about over this trip. Though, might be useless to tell you now.”


Rainbow Dash swam closer. “What?” All the rest began to collect. “Going to tell us our lessons for this week?” The pegasus shot her a playful smirk.


Twilight rolled her eye. “Just . . . I’ve been thinking.” She stood up in the shallows and looked between them. “About this people-watching-us-thing we’ve been going through. I’ve noticed we all had our own way of dealing with it.” She turned to Applejack. “AJ, I know you’ve got your pride, and it may have been wounded a little by what you read. They might have enjoyed your silly side, but you have our respect. I owe you my life several times over. And the respect of Ponyville as a delicious cook, and number one athlete. You don’t need to pack gear and train to impress people you’ve never met, or hide your face behind a silly expression. You already impress us.”


“Yeah,” Applejack shyly kicked around the water with a forelimb. “I suppose the face thing was a hard trick to keep up.”


“Dash,” Twilight turned to the wading blue pony and shook her head with a smile. “I understand that words can hurt, and labels can have a great effect on how we perceive ourselves. But you shouldn’t let what others label you change who you really are. Be yourself. Do what you enjoy, despite labels. We like you for who you are. And when it comes to sleeping alone with you in a tent, there are none here I trust more.”  


Finding feet on river bed, Dash removed the pink hair clip and fiddled it between her hooves, meanwhile Rarity let out a nervous chuckle.




The yellow pony shrank a little from her name, sitting down in a shallow part of the river with Applejack.


“This fear you have of those watching us is kind of silly. They’ve never hurt us, and seem to admire us, even. You’re letting an irrational fear of attention hamstring you. I bet you were a lot more comfortable without that box on, stretching your wings again.”


Fluttershy half covered her face with her long hair, but the corners of her mouth curved up in a small smile.


“Rarity,” Twilight turned to her fellow unicorn and raised an eyebrow at her. “You’ve become quite preoccupied with correcting the opinions of a faceless horde. It’s consumed your time you could have spent elsewhere. Instead of this . . . very long guide, what if you had spent the trip designing a new fashion line? How far could you have gotten?”


“Ehh,” Rarity tilted her head and furrowed her brow in thought. “a couple new pieces . . .”


“Or picking a campsite.”


“Alright, point made.”




The pink equine bounced forward a step closer and sat back down. “Yes, bestest, smartest, most terrific pony?”


“Pinkie, you have got to be careful about some of the things you share. I know you love to talk, but occasionally, an unthinking word can cause hurt we don’t expect. We love that you’re outgoing and we can talk about anything, but when you’re trading what you’ve heard one person say about another, think twice on if it’s appropriate.”


“Okay!” Pinkie smiled, eyes, mouth, and soul.


Twilight sat back down, feeling the cool lap of the water against her body. More to all the ponies than any one in particular, she shared her last words. “And Celestia is not a tyrant.”


Several of the ponies exchanged glances. Rarity blinked several times. “None of us said anything about Celestia.”


“Oh, heh, heh, heh.” Twilight blushed. “Never mind that last part.”


“WHOO!” Pinkie leaped high into the air and splashed Rainbow Dash with another belly flop.


“But Twilight, we still have a problem.” Applejack gestured to the forest with a turn of her neck. “We’re still stuck a day’s march from nowhere, and we ain’t got any food at all.”


“Food!” Pinkie sprang up out of the water where Rainbow Dash tried to splash her back. “That’s right!” Twilight swore for a moment that Pinkie ran across the surface, but she couldn’t tell when the pink blur shot out of the river. Ducking behind a bush, Pinkie pulled out a still hot plate with omelets stacked like a tower, sticky maple syrup dripping all the way down.


“Where . . . how . . .?”


Pinkie set down the plate and stared at Twilight. “I’m a baker.”


It was a non-answer, but Twilight’s rumbling stomach gave the only answer she needed.





In Celestia’s private hall, the princess gathered her pile of official mail. Seeing a new arrival from Twilight Sparkle, she unraveled the binding and lifted it into the light.


            Dearest Princess Celestia

            Today, we all learned a valuable lesson on the magic of friendship. Rumor and opinion can be a powerful tool of pride or destruction. Sometimes even if ponies have never met, their opinions can make us change who we see ourselves as. But, in the end, while words of others may have a power over you, the one thing they do not have power over is the feelings and thoughts of your friends.

Your faithful student

Twilight Sparkle


A smile dawned on the sun-princess’s face, and she rerolled the letter, filing it away with the other reports from her diligent student. “Twilight,” She sighed. “Sending you to Ponyville was one of my better decisions through these generations.”


Turning to her laptop, she levitated it close and began to type into the message field. /r/ more ApplexMac.

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